Ken Hitchcock used the off day in California to further intoxicate Oilers nation with his sexy verbal. This time it was all about turning Jesse Puljujarvi into Jere Lehtinen (he didn’t say that, this is my imagination running away with me). Hitch talked about getting ‘the glide out’ of JP’s game when the other team has the puck. By the time Hitchcock got to “there’s elements of his game, doesn’t matter what league he’s playing in, that have to get better; I want that responsibility because the top band is awful, awful high and I want to work with that” every living Oilers aficionado let loose with the Daltrey primal scream from Won’t Get Fooled Again.
Ken Hitchcock is Robert Preston in “The Music Man” and oh we got trouble, trouble, trouble right here in river city. Ken Hitchcock has worked the city of Edmonton into an incredible Oilermania frenzy, something one would have thought impossible just one week ago. It could be the opening moments of a beautiful story, but there is danger here. Why?
What if it doesn’t work?
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- New Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi to the show, plus the sudden impact of Cam Hebig and Joel Persson.
- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Third line suits the eye of new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock.
- Jonathan Willis: Can Ken Hitchcock save Milan Lucic’s Oilers career?
- Lowetide: A shot in the dark: What are the Oilers getting in Chris Wideman?
- New Justin Bourne: Why switching coaches provides short-term benefits for an NHL team.
- Lowetide: With not enough talent, and outside the playoffs, Todd McLellan’s Oilers career ends where it began.
- Jonathan Willis: The Edmonton Oilers get their 2018-19 quarter pole report cards.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
OILERS AFTER 23
- Oilers in 2015: 7-14-2, 16 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in 2016: 12-9-2, 26 points; goal differential +9
- Oilers in 2017: 8-13-2, 18 points; goal differential -16
- Oilers in 2018: 10-10-2, 22 points; goal differential -9
The 2018 Oilers can get within two points of the 2016 playoff group with a win tonight. The goal differential is going to be a longer correction, and in all honesty the GD suggests this year’s team isn’t deserving of the record. We’ll see how they shine with the Music Man (so far, he’s 1-0-1).
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-6-2, 10 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-6-1, 11 points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in November 2017: 5-6-1, 11 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2018: 4-6-1, nine points; goal differential -7
All three November teams won this game in their respective seasons, it should be a win for the 2018 Oilers. As I mentioned yesterday, the schedule lines up well for an end of the month run no matter who is behind the bench.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN NOVEMBER
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (1-0-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 1-3-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: Vegas (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-0-1)
- At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 4-6-1, 9 points in 11 games
Three games left, Oilers need something like 2-1-0 in this series of games in my opinion. If they can manage that total, Edmonton gets through November 12-11-2, 26 points in 25 games. It isn’t fabulous, but neither is the Pacific Division.
HITCHCOCK’S LINEUP TWEAKS
- Ryan Spooner—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl.
- Drake Caggiula—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Alex Chiasson.
- Milan Lucic—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian.
- Patrick Russell—Jujhar Khaira—Ty Rattie (Jesse Puljujarvi)
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Kris Russell
- Kevin Gravel—Chris Wideman
- Cam Talbot (Mikko Koskinen)
In the last game day review I wrote “Drake Caggiula didn’t have a lot going on” and honestly didn’t think much of it. In previous seasons, it would have meant exactly zero, we would have seen Caggiula back on left wing with 97. Hitchcock, who notices everything, promptly moves Ryan Spooner up and Caggiula down. It may not last, Oilers have few choices, but it’s an indication that no crime will go unpunished in the Hitchcock era. Also gives Spooner a chance to do something, I wonder if Hitchcock sees him as part of the solution.
If we follow ‘The Crusty Veteran’s Coaching Handbook” then Puljujarvi doesn’t play in Los Angeles tonight, instead works hard in practice and proves to the coach he’s learning on the job and building rapport. If we do see him in the lineup, I expect that No. 4 line will be Khaira and Puljujarvi with McDavid quite a bit. Hitchcock is trying to find clean air for McDavid. Music!
Chris Wideman is likely to draw in tonight, if we’re going full MacT we’ll see Hitch dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen just in case. As an aside, I’ve been thinking about MacT as coach all damned week, the rush of memories has been surprising and welcome.
ADDING A SNIPER
One of Hitchcock’s quotes yesterday about Puljujarvi could also apply to Peter Chiarelli: “I want to work with him to get him to stay on the hunt longer.” I think these new high hopes are going to need a scoring boost, and that may mean a trade sometime around the new year. If you give Hitchcock three weeks to work with Puljujarvi, that makes the next pressure point at December 14 or so, and I think Edmonton goes out and grabs a first-person shooter. What is that player’s name? No idea. Hopefully he’s a right shot. One team Edmonton might be able to talk trade with? Ottawa Senators. Having dealt it’s own draft selection, it’s a good bet the club will want to have a replacement selections. Edmonton would pick No. 12 based on current standings, would that be enough to get something done?
Edmonton currently has selections No. 12, No. 43, No. 74, No. 83 (Brandon Davidson), No. 105, No. 167, No. 198. The team has no fifth rounder (Hayden Hawkey). This is all based on Edmonton picking No. 12 currently (basing it on winning percentage and games played).